04 July 2012

Varenna, Bellagio, and a swim

S & I cooked breakfast this morning - scrambled eggs with garden rosemary and local cheese - yum!  A prepped a fruit salad, and C got some pastries from the local shop. We ate and scooted out the door in order to make it down to Bellagio in time to catch our ferry across to Varenna, another freaking beautiful town with gardens and walks. 

On the ferry to Varenno.

Oh, how cute! A small harbor!

More pretty gardens. Le sigh.

C had read that there was an awesome market in Varenna on Wednesdays, but when we got there, the 'market' was two food trucks and four clothing trucks. Hardly a market made. Still, Varenna was beautiful - we wandered through town, checking out one of the formal gardens on the edge of the community. Then, back on the boat to Bellagio!

Our first stop in Bellagio was lunch. Since we're car-free here in Italia, the last bus to Civenna is at 6.35pm, and there's no reliable restaurant open in Civenna, we've taken to using lunch as our big meal, and snacking in the evening. On Monday, we tried to go to a restaurant in Bellagio called Bilacus (which came highly recommended), but it (and most restaurants) shut their doors in mid-afternoon, which is when we were trying to eat. So, today, we planned better and got to Bilacus during the lunch period. It was awesome. We started with prosciutto and melon, then we split a few pastas: a parmesan risotto and a panzarotti, which is like a crepe with ricotta and jam, rolled, coated in red sauce and then topped with mozzarella. The main courses were a little more confusing. C had sea bass, D had salmon, S & A ordered scallops, and B & I ordered perch (locally caught in Lake Como).  Except that for S & A, their dishes weren't scallops. They were 'escallops,' which apparently means scallops of veal. So, when the food arrived, there was a lot of shuffling and reshuffling to be done. Still, it was all very tasty.

After lunch, we walked to the northernmost tip of Bellagio, which is right at the tip of the triangle that separates the two lower branches of Lake Como. Then, the ladies went off to tour Villa Melzi (and its awesome gardens), while the guys went for a drink. Then, a quick trip to Nico's food shop, the gelateria, and then a bus home.

When we got off the bus in Civenna, we walked about ten steps before C realized he left his phone on the bus. He and I went to the ticket counter to try to intercept the driver at the next stop, but no one spoke English (and my 'tourist Italian' didn't cut it). So, C called our local contact for her help. Currently, he's still phone-free. The latest in technologic failures this trip.

After a relaxing sojourn by the pool, we cleaned up and started dinner - another potpourri of different foods - some meat, some veg, some starch (including a polenta dish). Wine, coffee, gelato (passion fruit, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, lemon).  As we ate, we watched the clouds roll in, and by the time we were done with dinner, the lake was invisible below - we were in the midst of a storm. As dinner wrapped up, I pocketed my flashlight (in case we had a power outage), we looked for playing cards (no luck), and settled in for some nighttime stormwatching. B & I were hoping to take some lighting photos, but the clouds were too thick. So, there we were, stuck on a mountaintop villa in a summer storm. Awesome!

It didn't take long for the front to pass, and the ridge line of the mountains again came into view as the clouds moved south.  And so, as the storm abates and America is just getting its Independence Day celebrations under way, we're looking forward to a good night's sleep here in Civenna. Happy Fourth to you all! And if you get a chance to re-read the Declaration of Independence, please do so. I'm about to re-read it myself now.

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